More than 1,000 flooring distributors and manufacturers, including 38 first-time exhibitors, attended the NAFCD + NBMDA Annual Convention in Dallas to build relationships and share best practices. The annual business-building event is hosted jointly by the North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) and North American Building Material Distribution Association (NBMDA).

“Typically, I have three goals for the NAFCD Convention,” said Dunn Rasbury, director of flooring, A&M Supply, a distributor with 12 locations in the Southeastern U.S. “One: to learn something. NAFCD has always been a place to gain new insights into the challenges we all face every day. Seeing and interacting with the other distributors has always been a major draw, and I always look forward to seeing current and potential vendors, whether it's seeing new product, or moving products that we've been working on down the road to launch.”

Shane Richmond, regional manager for the Mid-Atlantic region, Fishman Flooring Solutions, said the show was very well attended and the educational opportunities were excellent.

“Our goal is to gather information about the marketplace at the convention, so we’re well represented there every year,” Richmond said. “We have high value for interacting with our distributor peers and our vendors to learn from them. We’re always very interested in the economic forecast by ITR Economics. Fishman also sees the convention as an opportunity to evaluate new products and offerings from potential new vendor partners.”

Manufacturers have their own goals for the conference. “We are not seeking new distributors; we use this as an opportunity for business meetings with our existing partners,” said Russ Rogg, president and CEO, Metroflor.

The company hosted a private dinner and product showcase for their distribution partners on the eve of the show, emphasizing the company’s new Vercade wall collection and the forthcoming luxury vinyl tile collection with magnetic underlayment, which is gearing up for a January 1, 2019, launch.

Thomas Mathis from Lonesome Oak Trading Company came to the show representing the Gulistan brand, which was resurrected at Surfaces this year as a higher-end carpet division.

Zamma is making stair installation for laminate and vinyl easier with new one-piece stair treads. "Stairs are always a challenge,” said Tim Tipton, senior vice president, sales, Zamma. “They are time consuming, there’s a lot of labor involved, the consumer doesn’t like the look of it with the overlap, so we are creating a one-piece tread that’s wrapped in vinyl or laminate. From an installer’s standpoint there is no modification of the stairs. Installer can measure and cut and install.”

The current offering of stair treads featured a rounded edge and a squared edge will debut in the new year. “Installers can ruin us or make us look like heroes, and from our standpoint, and this will make the installation of stairs much easier,” Tipton said.

Nox Corp. is planning for the unveiling of its LVT plant expansion, planned for January 2019. “The expansion will double our capacity making it the largest production in the U.S.,” said Kevin Jeon, vice president of sales and marketing, Nox.

Rasbury said luxury vinyl tile is still very hot for his market: “The new high-traffic SPC with painted bevel from Fusion is incredibly beautiful. Next Floor is introducing a large-format SPC that will be off the charts for us.”

Richmond said Fishman is also continuing to add to LVT and hardwood product offerings. “Whenever we choose a new line, it’s because the products are exciting and bring value to our customers,” he noted. The company recently launched the Tredsafe line of commercial flooring transitions and nosings, which gives their customer base new, high-quality metal options for their commercial flooring installations.

The outlook for Fishman’s distribution business in 2019 very positive. "Our goal is to delight our customers with every interaction and when we deliver a great experience, they reward us with new opportunities," Richmond said. "We continue to capture market share in our existing geography and are always looking to expand both our commercial and residential segments.”

Looking ahead, Rasbury also said 2019 has the potential for strong growth. “We have a couple of landmines to navigate, specifically the projected tariff increase and the predicted economic slowdown. It will be an interesting and challenging year,” he said.